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Spotlight: Bathrooms
Sleek systems, (very) smart toilets and more
A Sri Lankan Retreat with a Nature-Inspired Bathroom Experience
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4 Fresh Faucets Bringing Fun to the Bathroom
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Johnson Chou’s Masterful Spa-Like Environments
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The Four Seasons Montreal (Also) Boasts Some Snazzy Washrooms
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An Australian Firm Shows How to Design Beautiful End-of-Trip Facilities
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4 Stunning Vanities in an Array of Styles
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4 Sleek Toilets with Optimized Features
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Spotlight: Bathrooms

A number of years ago, two married couples purchased a plot of land in Sri Lanka with the dream of building a rental holiday home together. That the couples in question are made up of renowned architects explains how they created something as special as K House. Peter Eland of Copenhagen firm Norm Architects explains that he and his wife, Gabriela Lo, have been friends with AIM Architecture’s founders, Wendy Saunders and Vincent de Graaf, since they all worked together in Shanghai, where AIM is based. All had developed a love for Sri Lanka during their vacations there, so when Saunders and de Graaf approached Eland and Lo to go in on a joint venture, the personal became professional.

“Sri Lanka is an amazing country — there’s so much culture and a
great history of architecture, both in terms of the vernacular and the colonial influences of the Dutch, the Portuguese and the British, down through to the invention of the modern tropical style by Geoffrey Bawa,” says Eland. What could Norm and AIM contribute? “We wanted to create a space that bridges Northern European architecture with that more vernacular and modern tropical approach.”

In a nod to the rugged coastal setting, Norm and AIM eschewed an expected palette of ceramic tile and porcelain in favour of hardy teak and polished concrete.
As much a pragmatic choice as an aesthetic one, concrete walls and granite flooring are effectively weatherproof in the tropical climate.

Topped with recycled terracotta tile, K House actually consists of two concrete guest houses that gently step down into their footprints. To build the project, the firms connected with Crystal Construction, a local contractor whose knowledge of the region’s rugged coastal climate (in which stainless steel would rust and glass would be too cumbersome to maintain) informed the material palette of teak complemented by cement and terrazzo. Norm and AIM put these classic materials to unorthodox use, applying, for instance, a honed cement typically used for flooring to the buildings’ facades. 

This palette continues even into the bathrooms — a zone where one would expect it to segue into gleaming tile and porcelain. For Eland, the consistency was a no-brainer, but there was one preoccupation: “The biggest discussion we had about the bathrooms was how people would perceive the open-air experience.” In one of the guest houses, the bathroom’s concrete wall extends past the terracotta roofline and out to an enclosed courtyard. Here, guests are not totally exposed to nature but they are showering en plein air. The bathrooms’ materials — granite flooring and polished cement — only make sense, therefore, as waterproof options. “Overall, people like it,” Eland says, now that the property is open for bookings. “They find it interesting.”

As a whole, the project speaks to the firms’ adherence to a holistic approach. “Many times, we say that we work from the inside out, that the building and material palette have to be connected,” says Eland. “We work with few materials, but the way we juxtapose textures allows one to see the material for what it is: You need a little bit of roughness in order to appreciate the smoothness.” 

New collections by Axor, Isenberg, Graff and Zazzeri introduce pizazz to the bathroom:

1
Infinity

Sculptural and dramatic, the Infinity wall-mount faucet by Isenberg can be installed on the left- or right-hand side of a mirror. Measuring 86 centimetres in height, the scene-stealer is available in 20 eco-friendly ceramic-based colourways, including deep red, navy blue, gloss white and army green. 

2
Axor Myedition

With seven interchangeable plates and 15 surface finishes, Axor‘s rectilinear MyEdition mixer (a collaboration with Phoenix Design of Germany) can be configured in more than 300 combinations. Material options for the plate range from mirrored glass and marble to wood veneers and leather. 

3
JK21

A modern interpretation of Japanese designer Junko Enomoto’s Junko Mix from 1977, Zazzeri‘s JK21 by Fabrizio Batoni is defined by playful lines and colourful decorative inserts. Options include PVD and lacquered steel in red, blue or yellow, as well as such stones as Carrara marble and travertine. 

4
Mod+

One of three marble options for the handles of this faucet by Graff, Forest Green introduces a rich contrast to contemporary bathroom designs. Augmenting their versatility are 17 available finishes for the brass faucet and handles; knurled detailing adds a subtle industrial counterpoint to the more luxe material. 

For more bathroom products, visit Spec Sheets.

It’s difficult to imagine anyone speeding through their morning routine on autopilot in the serene bathrooms created by Toronto designer Johnson Chou. In environments so deeply considered, the simple act of brushing one’s teeth suddenly becomes more considered. Chou makes sure of it.

“We’re in this era of instant gratification, where we’re so focused on making bathrooms just about getting out of the house and off to work,” he says. “In fact, they can be this chance to slow down and cultivate an appreciation for the things around you.”

Hallmarks of Chou’s evocative designs include monolithic vanities and bathtubs — typically custom-designed in statuary marble or pearly white Corian (Chou’s preferred material choice) — that hold the same intrigue as modern sculptures. “I treat every component as a 3D element, then compose the room with forms,” he says. This approach extends all the way down to faucet selection: He favours Vola’s simple fixtures for being “architectural instead of decorative, but not cold” (the perfect embodiment, in other words, of his signature style: minimal yet luxurious).

Pearly white Corian clads nearly all elements of the Shadow Box house’s washrooms. The custom-designed fixtures were manufactured by Ca’Bano.
Toronto’s Johnson Chu designs monolithic vanities and bathtubs that hold the same intrigue as modern sculptures.

Adding to the sanctuary-like quality of his crisply lit bathrooms is the fact that they are usually designed as part of free-flowing master suites. Any partitions installed between sleeping and bathing quarters are either optional — such as the sheer curtain that can be drawn in his recent Shadow Box house project — or constructed from clear glass. (Water closets are a notable exception, still kept behind closed doors.)

By choosing transparent and partial dividers, Chou maintains a feeling of expansiveness while still allowing for different activities to play out in their own intimate zones. In the master bath of a moody condo unit, for instance, a sepia-tinted two-way mirror suspended between the bathtub and the vanity behind it accommodates the tasks at hand without interrupting the open plan.

Inside a condo at 10 Bellair in Toronto, a suspended sepia-tinted mirror divides the space while keeping sightlines open.

“It’s about adding in layers to modulate the space, but still letting you see all the corners of the room,” he says. That way, a frantic morning routine becomes a calming procession through space — and getting ready starts to feel like its own main event. 

A sprawling 1,268-square-metre restaurant and social hub on the third floor of Montreal’s Four Seasons Hotel, Marcus was conceived by local studio Atelier Zébulon Perron as an experiential journey. That includes the men’s and women’s restrooms, which are similar in their detailing and calculated use of reflection, but offer strikingly distinct effects. While taking the perfect selfie may be the most common use of the bathroom mirror these days, principal Zébulon Perron says that, in this case, the reflective material provided an opportunity to “open up the spaces” and create “surprise within the project.”

Building on the refined palette of Marcus’s dining spaces, the women’s washroom is replete with rich, warm hues and crisp detailing. Pale pink terrazzo makes up almost every element of the space, including a central vanity that seemingly floats atop a halo of recessed light and boasts a sloped trough sink. “One thing we did in both bathrooms,” says Perron, “was use mirrors to create an infinity effect.”

The women’s washroom

Here, the monolithic custom basin was positioned against a floor-to-ceiling mirror wall (not shown) to duplicate its rounded form. Above the unit, a suspended copper-plated structure incorporates sleek faucets while concealing wall-fed plumbing in a slender arm. Lighting fixtures and two circular mirrors are also integrated within its finely detailed framework to create “a notion of luxury that is about the moment of interaction.”

Marcus Restaurant at the Four Seasons Montreal Sparks Interaction
The luxurious Marcus Restaurant + Terrace fosters connection courtesy of local studio Atelier Zébulon Perron.

In the men’s lavatory, meanwhile, jet-black Grand Antique marble with thick ribbons of white veining clads the floors, walls and a crisp rectangular basin, transforming the space into an inhabitable work of op art. As in the ladies’ room, two carefully situated parallel mirrors reflect what appears to be an almost endless corridor of individual stalls illuminated by concealed lighting; custom globe pendants built by Montreal’s Lambert & Fils (which also supplied luminaires throughout the project) run down the centre.

The men’s washroom

“We wanted to make sure that the way you perceive the space and its real, physical limits were two different things,” says Perron. “When you walk into the washroom, it’s a very surprising and immersive experience.”

Over the past few years, employee health and well-being have become firmly established as leading design considerations for workspaces. Human-focused and biophilic elements, including access to sunlight as well as patterns and shapes that mimic those found in nature, are now a common sight in offices. Add to that a growing trend in Australia that sees EOT (end-of-trip) facilities — shared bathroom spaces that encourage and support employees who bike, walk or jog to work in the mornings and those who get physical on their lunch break — popping up in office buildings big and small.

Case in point: As part of a recent office-tower lobby and café redesign in Brisbane, Stephen Cameron, principal at local architecture firm Cameron & Co, reassigned a portion of the underground parking lot to a 700-square-metre employee-devoted functional area that adroitly blends the raw with the refined.

Upon entering — via either a dedicated street entrance or the car-park elevator lobby — those looking to freshen up are greeted by a lounge area clad in spotted gum (an Australian hardwood) and equipped with brass-lined shelving offering fresh towels. A living wall adds greenery and softens the transition into the low-ceilinged basement. Overhead beams and service pipes were left exposed to exaggerate its height and painted olive green to lend visual texture. As the existing concrete floor was too uneven to be workable, Cameron topped it with a self-levelling Ardex compound that closely matches the concrete in colour and texture. 

The architect then introduced a number of durable yet beautiful materials throughout the purposefully high-traffic zone, which is divided into separate male and female shower and change rooms (each able to handle up to 13 people at a time), a universally accessible bathroom and a locker room.

In the women’s washroom, architect Stephen Cameron chose frosted glass to back the circular mirrors because it “glows softly when lit and allows silhouettes to hint at figures beyond.”
Ceramic linear tiles with inverted profiles mingle with brass accents and richly grained wood for an abundance of texture. The exposed ceiling is the only hint at the underground location.

Inax Ceravio G ceramic tiles (a series of flat linear ceramic tiles with varied profiles) cover walls, shower stalls and the vanity in the women’s bathroom; a durable laminate that mimics the lounge’s natural hardwood fronts the lockers and Corian’s terrazzo-look Everest surfacing makes up countertops and the bench seating in the locker room. Matte black fixtures, brass accents (including sconces by Melbourne’s Dowel Jones repurposed as unexpectedly elegant ceiling lights) and frosted-glass mirrors inject polish to the subterranean space.

“Combining rough and raw structural elements with exotic and refined details is a signature approach of ours,” says Cameron. “We love the brutal honesty of an exposed structure combined with the delicacy and beauty of highly crafted items.” Here, that trademark move has resulted in a linger-worthy destination that any employee would be happy to see each morning. 

Here’s what Scavolini, Artceram, ITLAS and Wetstyle have in store for bathroom storage:

1
Stellé

Compact and uncomplicated, Stellé by Wetstyle is handcrafted from responsibly sourced woods and finished in one of 12 natural stains that highlight the grain or four neutral lacquers. Made in three sizes (from 41 by 41 to 61 by 41 centimetres), the floor-mounted pedestals come with or without doors. 

2
Vogue

A modernization of retro washstands, this series of freestanding vanities by Meneghello Paolelli Associati for Artceram features three textural sink options (smooth, ribbed and quilted). The linear metal frames are available in matte white or black and include a built-in towel holder and solid or gridded shelf. 

3
Linea Triennale

Part of the customizable Progetto Bagno collection by ITLAS, Linea Triennale sees an aluminum internal structure clad in pale oak that can easily be matched with other materials, like the Carrara marble Dot surface by Scholten & Baijings seen here.

4
Tratto

A modular system defined by sophisticated lines, Scavolini‘s Tratto comprises both closed volumes and open-front elements. Unobtrusive recessed grip handles can be brass, bronze or silver, or lacquered in a variety of colours that match the units, like the Powder Pink matte finish shown.

For more bathroom products, visit Spec Sheets.

These models, by Duravit, Kohler, Toto and American Standard, elevate the bathroom fixture:

1
Karing 2.0

An elongated seat gives this intelligent one-piece toilet by Kohler added ergonomic comfort. The seat is also motion-activated and the spray wand uses UV light and electrolyzed water to self-clean; an auto-flush function initiates after every use. 

2
RP washlet+ RX

With its compact design, Toto‘s wall-mounted toilet takes up nearly 23 square centimetres less space than a standard floor model; a concealed supply connection completes its streamlined look. Wall stud and waste outlet installation kits are available for both commercial and residential applications.

3
Sensowash I Shower-Toilet

The features of Philippe Starck’s sleek ceramic toilet for Duravit — water and seat temperature control, spray intensity, warm air dryer, LED night light and more — are operable via remote control or app (for both iOS and Android). An optional eco flush system uses as little as three litres. 

4
Advanced clean 100 spalet bidet toilet

Along with front and rear self-cleaning and adjustable nozzles, a three-temperature warm air dryer, a heated seat with six levels and an automatic open–close lid, this model by American Standard includes blue-light bowl sterilization and a deodorizer with a replaceable charcoal filter.

For more bathroom products, visit Spec Sheets.